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Still working on that hot first release.



"Were pretty much reinventing ourselves as a band."

Thats a fairly heavy statement for any singer to make, especially someone who fronts a relatively young band with a million-plus in record sales, several massive rock radio hits (Wasting My Time, Deny, Taking My Life Away), a bunch of late-night-tv show appearances and more than a few sold-out tours with some of the biggest alt- and active rock groups in the country under its belt. But Dallas Smith, frontman of the platinum rock band Default, knew that something needed to change before the group started work on its third record, One Thing Remains.

I mean, to think back to when we started six years ago, to get here to a third album is amazing, says the singer, who initially joined the Vancouver band in 1999 at the behest of his high school buddies Jeremy Hora and Danny Craig. But we wanted to get a little heavier this time, yet keep our melody, too. Thats what our first record [2001's The Fallout] did so well. And at the same time... we were really open to different ideas for the first time, both musically and lyrically. We sat down, discussed what had happened to us over the last few years on the road, went over what we heard and saw, and went from there. The first thing to change was the recording process. After devoting most of its six year existence to touring, the band spent a full year at home, writing songs at each others houses and testing out new ideas. Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who initially discovered Default on a demo tape and took the band on tour in its early days, swung by to hear some tracks and offer his help. So did Marti Fredrickson, a frequent collaborator with Aerosmith. Most importantly, after an extensive search and a few false starts, the band discovered the producer theyd always been looking for: Bob Marlette.

"Bob's worked with everyone from Tracy Chapman to Black Sabbath to a bunch of jazz groups," says Smith. "We liked the idea that he had a experience with a wide spectrum of music." He laughs. "Besides ... he knows how to make a REAL rock record. We may not trying to be a metal band, but the way Bob works, even our ballads have balls now, you know?"

For guitarist Jeremy Hora, it was a perfect match. "Ive never done so many guitar parts on an album in my life," he admits. "But then again, I always say that everything 2 we do starts with the Jimmys: Hendrix and Page. So for me, working with Bob was heaven."

The final result, One Thing Remains, both re-establishes the bands melodic rock sound, yet expands on it in new and unexpectedly exciting ways. No, the group did not suddenly decide to wear matching outfits or plunder the catalog of Gang of Four and Joy Division; instead, the guys simply worked on their dynamics. Hiding From the Sun sports an aggressive guitar assault that does their Pacific Northwest heritage proud, while The Way We Were shows off a powerful new vocal range for Smith, who was somewhat of a novice singer when he started with the group six years ago.

The albums two standout tracks, meanwhile, showcase the bands depth and range. Count on Me, the first single (co-written by Kroeger), is an upbeat, anthemic track thats already hit it big on rock radio ... even before the songs official release. "Its a very positive song for us, and it gets away from the relationship-heavy lyrics that weve been doing for so long," says Smith. "Chad, and Bob, too, really helped us expand our world view on this album."

But the band also performs a 180 degree turn on the opening track All is Forgiven, a lush, mid-tempo rocker with a shimmery guitar sound that, at times, recalls an early 90s U2. Its a departure for the band, and Smith is damn proud of it. We changed that song a million times, he remembers. In some ways, it doesnt sound like our band, but its my favorite song on the record, and I wanted to lead off with that. It was important to me.

Default plan to spend at least the next year or so on the road, as they did with their two previous records, The Fallout and Elocation. A video for Count on Me is in rotation on all the major video outlets, and the band has tentative plans to hit several major festivals and radio shows over the next few months. And while other bands that started at the same time have already crashed and burned, Default seems to be at its peak.

"Its a cliche, but everyone says on your third album you grow up, says Hora. But you know what? Its true, at least in our case. And hopefully, you get better as you go along. Our eyes were really opened up over the last few years, and thats really reflected here. Im more excited than Ive ever been."